- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2004

Words similar to those uttered by Gilbert Arenas following the Washington Wizards’ loss at Boston on Friday probably are being heard in many Eastern Conference locker rooms these days.

“It’s over,” Arenas said. “We’ve got to put this behind us and focus on the next game, play better. We’ve still got a chance to get [to the playoffs]. But we have to stop beating ourselves first.”

That’s exactly what the Wizards did in the 94-90 defeat by Boston. They outplayed the Celtics for most of the night until it counted. Up by 12 points late in the third quarter, the Wizards were outscored 44-28 the rest of the way.

The loss once again prevented them from stringing together three consecutive wins this season and dropped their Atlantic Division record to 1-14. Nonetheless, Washington was only three games out of the eighth and final playoff berth in the weak Eastern Conference yesterday despite a 20-40 record. Six of the 15 Eastern teams have winning records.

The Celtics (27-36) won for the fourth time in a row. That would be impressive if they hadn’t lost 13 of their previous 14.

Today at MCI Center against the New York Knicks (28-35), the Wizards will get another opportunity to win a game they absolutely must have.

“They’re all important now,” Arenas said. “No more room for excuses.”

The Knicks aren’t much better off than Boston, despite the glossy deals they’ve made under new president of basketball operations Isiah Thomas. No team this season has dealt players as aggressively at the Knicks, who have acquired the likes of Stephon Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway and Tim Thomas.

However, there is some sense that the Knicks may have made one deal too many when they sent Keith Van Horn to Milwaukee for Thomas. After that deal, the Knicks went 1-6 before winning their last two.

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